An abolitionist whose memoir, 12 Years A Slave, inspired the 2013 film of the same name. Solomon Northup’s life and experience shows that the crime of slavery in the United States was a danger to anyone of African descent. Born free in the state of New York, he spent much of his life as a farmer and inspiring violinist until he was drugged and sold into slavery while in rout to Washington D.C. (at the time the Nation's biggest slave market) where he was offered a job to perform. After his kidnapping he was sent to New Orleans and spent twelve years in Louisiana as a slave. He was sold to William Prince Ford, then to John M. Tibaut (who Northup disliked the most), and lastly to Edwin Epps for ten years. During his time at the Epps plantation, Northup encountered Samuel Brass, a Canadian man who gained his trust and helped in his freedom. After being freed Northup spent the rest of his life campaigning for the end of slavery in the United States leaving behind his memoir that become a contribution to the abolitionist movement. His memoirs are praised for their detail and brutal honesty. While Northup did not live to see the end of slavery in the United States his works and story still lives on and have been used as examples of the harshness of the slave trade in the United States amongst other struggles facing people of African descent.
Denise Nicholas July 12, 1944 to Present
An American actor and writer, Denise Nicholas has spent much of her life as an activist join acting companies that catered to rural African Americans in the hopes of providing the experience of live performances to these communities. Such companies including the Free Southern Theater and the Negro Ensemble Company. While she would gain international fame for her performance in the series Room 222, she never stopped advocating for social justice. In 2005, she published her first novel Freshwater Road that used the Civil Rights Movement as a backdrop with some of her experiences also being an influence. While she is not currently active in the current entertainment industry her legacy lives on through her novel.
Medgar Evers July 2, 1925 to July 12, 1963
A student of considerable degree and a veteran of the Second World War, Medgar Evers lived in one of the worst states in the south during the period of Jim Crow and pre-Civil Rights reforms. Born and raised in Mississippi, Evers spent much of his life jeered and prodded by the socially accepted racist behavior of the state. Being forced to go to a school further away than where he lived, he was often exposed to the cruelty of the social divide between Black and white Americans, mostly conducted school peers. After serving in the Second World War, Evers started to take a more active role in dismantling racist practices in his state by joining the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL) were his leadership would shove him to the for front of the growing Civil Rights Movement. One of the biggest protests that he led and organized was against the University of Mississippi, which rejected him on the grounds of his race. The University of Mississippi faced backlash on an international level from the work of Evers and his allies. Unfortunately, Evers did not live to see the fruits of his and many others’ labors when he was assassinated in the wake of President Kennedy’s civil rights address. While not as well-known as Dr. Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers is still remembered to this day as a strong leader in his state of Mississippi.
Dr. Ebadi, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, for the decades she spent in fighting for human rights in Iran, her home country. Prior to the 1979 Revolution, she was the first woman president of the Tehran City Court. Through this position she moved to expand the rights of women, and although she loss of her position, it did not prevent her from continuing her fight for the rights of women and children in Iran. On several occasions this fight lead her to conflicts with the people in power, however Dr. Ebadi did not yield in her efforts. In 1993, she could practice law again, and since has continued to argue for the rights of women and children. In addition, to fighting in court, Ebadi started up many social organizations to support the needs of women and children and to fight for their rights. Her legal work continues to this day with growing support from both local and foreign groups coming to aid.
Bertha Von Suttner June 9, 1843 to June 21, 1914
The first woman to earn the Nobel Peace Prize in 1905, Baroness Bertha von Suttner spent her life alongside her husband to promote peace among the European power during the close of the 19th century and up until her death a mere month before the First World War. She worked alongside Alfred Nobel as his secretary. During this time, she wrote many articles and books arguing for peace among nation and traveled across Europe spreading their message of peace on the income she and her husband earned in teaching language and music. The Baroness was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1905) for her participation in the International Peace Conference in Boston in 1904 and for her many decades of work in the name of Peace. While her work did not prevent the powder keg that was Europe from exploding a month after her death, but her legacy work Die Waffen Nieder (Lay Down Your Amrs) has been published in 12 languages and has 37 editions. It continues to be popular in some circles and is an influential part in current works.
Aruna Roy June 26, 1956 to Present
Aruna Roy is an activist in India whose focus is on getting more resources to the poorer communities of her nation. While the nation of India does have governmental resources to aid the poor, Roy took notice that it was not enough and has spent much of her adult and professional life in correcting this issue. She has co-founded the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) in 1987, a social grassroots organization that is meant to empower, as well as established the Rights of Information Act (RTI) for the people of India. Her life has been dedicated to aid those who had been neglected by her nation's government and making already available organizations much more reliable. For her efforts she received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership (2000) and the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award for Excellence in Public Administration, Academia and Management (2010) was bestowed upon her for her continued efforts to improve her nation.
A martyr for liberal ideals during the rise and height of the Nazi Regime in Germany, Sophie Scholl is known for her role in spreading anti-Nazi materials before her death at the hands of said regime. Scholl was twenty-one years of age at the time of her death and was used as a symbol by allied powers and other anti-Nazi groups. She became inspired to uphold liberal ideas and go against the Nazi regime due to her upbringing as the daughter of a liberal and her exposure to philosophical artists and the like. Once she joined the White Rose Movement, she and her brother had been active in distributing information against the Nazi Party. The White Rose was a non-violent resistance movement that used art and anonymously leaflets to inspire others to resist the party. This movement was short-lived in that all the core members were imprisoned by the Gestapo only to be executed after show trials. Throughout the trials and at her execution Scholl showed defiance. In modern Germany she has been voted the fourth of the most inspirational youths of the 20th century out of a hundred.
Caroline Chisholm May 30, 1808 to March 25, 1877
A champion of human rights, Caroline Chisholm spent her time aiding those who came to Australia to find shelter and stable employment. While at first her focus was primarily young women, she shifted her operations to include young men. Her focus was on the well-being of immigrants since the majority who came to Australia would be left to their own devices and often many would not do well. Seeing that the English government was to blame for the plights of these immigrants Chisholm would sail to England to protest and advocate for immigrants to Australia. During her time in the British Isles she also advocated for the rights of Welsh farmers. Much of what she advocated was also focused on keeping families together, this being one of the major issues for immigrants.
Frederic Passy May 20, 1822 to June 12, 1912
Frederic Passy, a pacifist who alongside Henry Dunant won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901. Passy is best known for his university lectures and several essays written for the advancement of free trade. The university he was known for lecturing at was the University of Montpellier. However, Passy earned his Nobel Prize as an advocate for peace. He wrote several essays on the topic of peace and much of his work was widely known during his time. One such example would be the Historique du Mouvement de la Paix (1905). Defined as the history of the peace movement is a rather lengthy essay on how the worldwide peace movement was formed. It was an argument for peace on a worldwide scale and how it was being accomplished.